If Steve had ever thought about this -- and he's not admitting he has, thank you very much, Sam -- it would have involved going to the pawn shop, probably, and picking out a slender gold band that was probably mostly nickel but was paid for with all the hope in his heart. And they'd be at the church and there would be a long mass and Bucky fidgeting his way through it and probably pretending to drop the rings to make Steve smile inappropriately during church.
And it wouldn't have happened at all, except maybe in a weird realistic dream where one of them was dressed as a bride and the other in a bird costume.
Steve has no idea how he blundered into this one, is probably what he means. He thinks that this might actually be a dream but there's no way even his subconscious is fucked up enough to come up with 'and then I went shopping for a ring to marry my best friend with Howard Stark's son's ladyfriend helping me pick one out at Tiffany's while Howard Stark's son lurked behind us pretending not to be deeply interested in the proceedings'.
"We can, of course, pull designs from the archives for you, Captain," says the manager, just as if it's a personal favor to him and there's not a hundred admen metaphorically lurking behind him getting ready to paper every Tiffany's location with discreet displays. Be part of an American legend. This beautiful platinum and black diamond band is similar to the one bought by an American captain for his partner. Price available on request. "We want your wedding ring to be perfect for you and your bride."
"I hardly ever get invited to weddings," says Stark, apropos of nothing. "Why don't I get invited to weddings, Pepper?"
"Because you hook up with every member of the wedding party that stays still enough for you to sleaze up to them," says Natasha from Steve's phone. She's holding the phone with one hand and flicking through a rack of dark clothing with the other, and her voice is coming from the comm in his ear. Steve wishes Bucky was here to see that. It's just like in the Lensman series, only more amazing because nobody thinks it's that strange. "What color should Barnes wear?"
Steve opens his mouth and Natasha adds, "Keep in mind that if you say 'navy' or 'black', I will shank you."
Steve closes his mouth again. He tries, "Gray's nice? I think?"
"Hmm," says Natasha, and disconnects.
"What sort of stone would your bride prefer?" says the manager. He tries to edge them toward a black velvet box with diamonds scattered in it like beautiful, horrifyingly expensive tears. "Diamonds, as you know, are traditional, but we have other precious and unusual stones as well."
"Er," says Steve awkwardly, and then, as apologetically as he can, "It's actually my groom?"
Stark doesn't look up from where he is typing on his phone so fast his thumbs seem to blur. "If that gets out before the press release I'm not going to be very happy," he says in a bored voice. Three people drop their hands from their pockets. "Cap, do you see anything you want here?"
"Well," says Steve.
"I've got a couple grams of vibranium kicking around somewhere," says Stark. "Dad kept it from the shield or something, I don't know what for. If you want."
"Maybe - maybe for his?" Steve says gratefully. "I can get myself a gold band. Or --"
The manager makes a sound that is next door to a sob. "-- or he can pick one out for me," says Steve, choosing not to mention that Bucky's idea of a ring would probably involve plain titanium or gold. "We could -- go to the Tower? And work on his. And maybe Miss Potts could, with the video thing?"
"If you allow us to measure your ring size, Captain," says the manager quickly, "we could hold a selection of rings you like for your fiance."
"Um," says Steve. "We're kind of on a --"
Pepper steps in and leads the manager away, and Steve hears her tell the manager a version of the truth, Captain Rogers' fiance is unavailable to come to the store and perhaps we can set up a conference call with him and of course we can look at the website, but we're on a bit of a tight schedule, you understand…..
Stark shoves his phone into his expensively tailored pocket, claps his hands and says, "Suit time! Then workshop time."
Steve seriously considers jumping out of the window. It's only a couple of stories up. Instead he reminds himself that by this time tomorrow he'll be legally married to James Buchanan Barnes and Bucky will never be able to get away from him, ever, and allows Stark to put an officious hand on the small of his back and push him toward the elevator.
They're in the car driving to the Garment District because Tony Stark wears Armani for every day but refuses to let Steve wear anything but hand-tailored-by-tiny-old-and-angry-Italian-men suits for his wedding, apparently, when Sam calls. "Hey," says Steve. He's trying to ignore Stark's driving, which compares favorably to any taxi driver that has tried to make Steve a more prayerful man before.
"Hey," says Sam. He sounds distracted. "Are you guys really, heh, wedded to the idea of a Catholic priest, because that's still not gonna happen."
Stark cuts through three lanes of traffic in about fifty yards. "Oh my Jesus," says Steve, and involuntarily crosses himself. "Um. Well, it'd be nice, but --"
"I got a guy I know who knows a guy who went into the Episcopal priesthood after he got out of the service," says Sam.
"That sounds great," says Steve, "-- Jesus, Mary and Joseph you are a worse driver than your father."
"Yeah?" says Stark, pleased. He swerves into an alley and Steve makes a mental note to bring a rosary the next time he's forced to drive with Stark.
"--Not a compliment, Stark!" he says through his teeth, as Stark crams the car between a lightpost and a delivery truck attempting to leave. The driver sticks his head out of the window and heaps invective on the Stark family for five generations. Steve feels briefly nostalgic.
You still there?" says Sam.
"Um, yeah," says Steve, as Stark gets out of the car and begins to harangue the driver in fluent, profane Italian. "That sounds great, Sam, I trust you. I … gotta go break this up, I think."
"Good luck," says Sam, and hangs up.
Steve manages to separate Stark and the driver and makes Stark back out enough to let the driver leave. By that time a small, hunched looking man has appeared and is watching, unamused, as Stark reparks the car and takes off his sunglasses.
"Anthony," he says.
"I brought you a present!" says Stark, waving his hand at Steve.
"And you expect me to make his wedding suit in twelve hours?" says the man, even more unamused.
Stark pulls out a thick wad of one hundred dollar bills and holds them out silently.
"Hmm," says the man.
They get back to the Tower just barely ahead of Nat, who is carrying two boxes from a store Steve and Bucky had never dared breathe in front of, and Sam, who is carrying the rest of the boxes. One of the boxes is padded and has an elegantly embossed, stylized rose on the side with no other name, so Steve's going to assume he doesn't want to know how much the flowers inside cost. Inside the penthouse is cupcake samples from high end bakeries, and Miss Potts makes Steve sit down and taste all of them. He picks one at more or less at random because it tastes like apples, and a person with tattoos like a sailor and pink and purple hair punches the air from where the bakery representatives were huddled anxiously, and screams in joy. Then they rush off with their cellphone mashed up against their ear and the other bakers slink off in disappointment.
"I feel like this is getting out of my control," says Steve, whose initial plan upon being told gently by a hospital administrator about HIPAA regulations was to bundle a justice of the peace into Bucky's room and bundle him out five minutes afterward. Then he was going to camp out in Bucky's room for the rest of the week and wave his ring in the hospital administrator's face.
It's just that. He's used to being the one that the doctors talk to about Bucky, and Bucky has always talked to the doctor about him. Their entire neighborhood knew that after Mrs Rogers died, that Barnes kid was taking care of him, and the only time they ever had to worry about it was if Steve got taken to the hospital. Even then, most of the nurses turned a blind eye to Bucky visiting. And then Steve had been technically Bucky's commanding officer, and …. he's probably over-reacting, but he can't do this again.
"Suck it up, Captain Bridezilla," says Stark.
The ring is a cool, almost pearlescent silver. Stark engraves it on the inside, tiny block capitals: to the end of the line. Steve takes his dogtags off and slips the ring beside his tags to keep it safe until the next day.
He gets chivvied off to bed early by Sam, who doesn't quite stand over him while he's showering but definitely supervises his tooth cleaning, and to his own surprise sleeps deep and dreamlessly until Barton wakes him up with a surprisingly tuneful rendition of "Get Me To the Church On Time". Natasha comes in with his suit in a bag and chases Barton out.
"Men," she says disgustedly. Steve chooses not to point out that he himself is a member of that species. She pulls out socks and underwear and shoes from another bag and says, "Strip."
Steve lost all sense of modesty after six months of being one of two guys in cramped greenrooms otherwise crammed full of pretty girls in places like Wichita, so he pulls his shirt off obediently and suffers through Natasha snapping her fingers at him and saying, "Everything, Rogers, don't be a nun," even though he draws the line at Natasha threatening to make sure he's adjusted properly in the boxers.
The suit looks real nice on him, he thinks, a dark blue with a crisp, lighter blue shirt with a nearly white tie that Natasha ties for him. She's dressed in soft blue. She smooths the front of his jacket down and for a minute he thinks she's going to say something, but then she somehow manages to smack the back his head and says, very seriously, "Don't fuck this up."
"I'll try not to," says Steve.
When they get to the hospital Stark and Miss Potts are there with boutonnieres for Sam and Steve and a wrist corsage for Natasha. Obviously someone besides Stark was the one to pick them out because they're just white flowers, roses and small white flowers Steve isn't quite sure of. When they head into Bucky's room he's sitting up in his bed, looking bright and happy, wearing steel grey and green. Steve feels like he's going to have an asthma attack or something, that his heart is going to burst open like the man in the fairy tale when the steel bands broke for joy. Bucky reaches out for him and this time, this time, Steve reaches back and twines his fingers together with Bucky's, holding tight, tight, tight
The priest smiles at them and says, "Dearly beloved…."
Stark denies crying afterward, but Natasha has photographic evidence of him sniffling into Bruce's shoulder.
Steve doesn't notice one way or the other. He's too busy looking at Bucky looking back at him.